The NEGES Foundation

(note: due to a combination of internet scarcity, lots of shooting and generally getting into the pace of Haitian life… we have a few blog posts going up a bit late)

As we’ve come to discover, Haiti and the US are intertwined in a deep and fascinating way. First of all 1.2 million Haitians are our fellow Americans. These diaspora communities exist in cities like Miami, New York and Boston and are responsible for almost half of the national income of Haiti (estimated $1.2-$1.5 billion annually in remittances)

Lucky for us, Brooklyn is full of Haitians…. and that’s where our next project got its start. We ran into the NEGES foundation through friends at Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. This small community development project is led by Yoleine Gateau Esposito and James Philemy, two Haitian Americans who wanted to help develop the educational opportunities in Léogâne, a coastal community about an hour outside of Port au Prince.

The 2010 earthquake destroyed nearly 90% of the structures in Léogâne (which was at the epicenter). This of course was heartbreaking for a small development project like NEGES, built up over the course of years with small donations and lavish amounts of personal time and commitment.

We only had a few hours to stop by NEGES, but we were given a tour in the power of resilience. The drive to Léogâne leaves no doubt about the impact of the quake… rubble and destruction still line the road. There are tent cities everywhere. Which makes it all the more remarkable that inside the gates of NEGES we found a primary school fashioned out of shipping containers ready to receive its first classes. We found a Women’s center, community space and a beautiful little restaurant.

There are many arguments we’ve run into against this kind of small development. It isn’t scalable, it’s hard to get self sustaining, it can throw the local balance out of whack. But it’s the human thing to do. It’s the kind of project whose warmth, ambition and attention to detail are evident in all sort of ways. There is something beautiful about people who will build an educational center on a far off island. And then do it again.

We hope our video and pictures can help. If you want to, you can visit every dollar makes a difference at a place like NEGES. We heard about many cool programs waiting to be enabled by funding.


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